In an industrial section of Detroit near a giant junk yard is one of the last great working-man lunch counters. At Marcus Hamburgers, you can still get a full plate of food with all of the trimmings for around five bucks. The staff is friendly and talkative. But the main reason Marcus Hamburgers is great Roadfood is its unique burger.
The Marcus Burger is a long tube of coarse ground beef steamed in a hot dog bun, enhanced when cheese is steamed on to finish. But it isn’t only the unusual shape that makes the burger special. Coarse-ground beef, grilled into logs, has a texture like Salisbury steak. It holds on to most of its pan-drippings and juices when it goes into the hot dog bun to be steamed into a burger-dog hybrid that redefines tube steak. Bowls of relish and onions are arrayed on the counter for dressing. When relish is applied, the burger looks even more like a hot dog.
One of the most charming aspects of this blue-collar diner that’s been here since 1929 is its horseshoe counter. This meandering bar fits groups and solo diners, and encourages socializing. It’s difficult to imagine having lunch here without talking to a friendly stranger.
If you seek something more substantial than a couple of hot dog-sized burgers, have a Hamburger Steak. That’s two burger logs between Texas toast, drowned in gravy. With canned green beans and mashed potatoes on the side, the plate eats like a cafeteria meal. Bean soup that comes before the plate would have probably been enough to sustain us through the afternoon.